Allah’s Messenger as Head of the Family

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How was the messenger of allah as the head of the family?

“The best of you are the ones who are morally best towards their wives.” Tirmidhi, Rada, 11

As it is stated in the Qur’an, the prophets of Allah got married and had children in order to be an example for their followers:

“And certainly We sent messengers before you and gave them wives and children …” (al-Ra’d 13; 38)

Just as earlier prophets, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) got married and lived an exemplary family life. He manifested the best examples for how one should treat his wife, children, maids, and other family members. He established the best rules for the rights and responsibilities of family members. The following general principle of the Prophet (pbuh) is enough for us to establish not just a strong and peaceful family but also a virtuous society:

“The most perfect believer in respect of faith is the one who is best of them in manners. And the best of you are the ones who are the best towards their wives.” (Tirmidhi, Rada’, 11; Abu Dawud, Sunnah, 15)

It was narrated by Mu’awiyah al-Qushayri that

“I asked the Prophet (pbuh):

“O Apostle of Allah! What rights do our wives have over us?” He replied:

“You should give her food when you eat, clothe her when you clothe yourself, do not strike her on the face, do not revile her or separate yourself from her; but if you have to (separate yourself), do it in the house.” (Abu Dawud, Nikah, 40-41; Ibn Majah, Nikah, 3)

Being the head of a family is both rewarding and a big responsibility. If it is not fulfilled properly, it causes unjust treatment of the spouse and the children. It is not usually possible to bring up the children of broken families with ease in today’s society. This is why we need to examine and find examples from the Prophet’s life related to being at the head of a family. In the following section we will summarize what we have found in this context:

1.  His Love for His Wives

“Two things are made beloved to me: Fragrance and women. And the light of my eyes is the ritual prayer.” (Nasai, Ishrat al-Nisa, 1)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) complemented women by calling them “Allah’s handmaidens” (Abu Dawud, Nikah, 42) to show their value in the presence of Allah. Thus, he presented women as the trusts of Allah the Almighty to the men. Moreover by stating that:

“Two things are made beloved to me: Fragrance and women. And the light of my eyes is the ritual prayer.”[1] (Nasai, Ishrat al-Nisa, 1) the Prophet (pbuh) expressed that his love for women originated from Allah the Almighty

The following report is enough to show the Prophet’s love for our mother Khadijah (r. anha) who played a very important role in his life and suffered a lot during the emergence of Islam:

It was narrated by Aisha (r. anha):

“Never did I feel jealous of the wives of Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) except in Khadija’s case, although I did not have the privilege to see her. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) would remember her very much. Whenever he (pbuh) slaughtered a sheep, he would send parts of it to Khadija’s friends. One day I made the Prophet (pbuh) very upset saying:

“It is only Khadija who is always on your mind. As if there is nobody else in this wolrd.” Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said:

“(Has there been anybody like her?) She was like so and so … And I had my children with her. Her love had been nurtured in my heart by Allah Himself.” Aisha (r.anha) continued saying:

“From that time on I promised myself not to speak badly about Khadijah anymore.” (Bukhari, Manaqib al-Ansar, 20; Nikah, 108; Muslim, Fada’il al-Sahaba, 73, 78)

Another tradition narrated by Aisha (r. anha) is as follows:

“Once Hala bint Khuwailid, Khadija’s sister, asked the Prophet’s permission to enter. After which, the Prophet remembered the way Khadija used to ask permission, and became emotional. He said,

“O Allah! This is Hala daughter of Huwailid!” So I became jealous and said,

“What makes you remember an old woman of Quraish who had a toothless mouth and died long ago, and in whose place Allah has given you somebody better?” (Bukhari, Manaqib al-Ansar, 20)

Our mother Aisha (r. anha) was referring to herself by saying “somebody better.” Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) told her:

“No, Allah the Almighty has not bestowed upon me anybody better than her. She believed in me when nobody had. She accepted that I was telling the truth, when everybody called me a liar. She supported me with her property, when nobody gave me anything and Allah the Almighty has bestowed upon me children from her.” (Ibn Hanbal, VI, 118)

Our mother Khadijah was a source of tranquility, a loyal adviser, and a shoulder to cry on. Her death and the death of the Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib caused so much pain to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) that he said:

“I do not know for which of these two calamities I should feel more sorrow.” (Ya’qubi, II, 35; Tabari, Tarikh, II, 229)

Allah’s Messenger did not treat and love Aisha (r.anha) less than Khadijah (r. anha). The report narrated by Shuraih b. Hani emphasises this point.

One day Shuraikh asked Aisha (r. anha):

“Can a woman eat with her husband during her period?” Aisha (r. anha) replied:

“Yes, she can.” And then she continued:

“When I had my period, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) used to call me and I would have a meal with him. He would take a piece of meat, offer it to me, and swear me to begin first. I would take it and have a bite and then give it back to him. He would place his mouth to the place I bit and begin to eat. Sometimes he would ask for something to drink and swear for me to drink it first. So I would take the cup, drink some from it, and then leave the cup. This time Allah’s Messenger would pick it up, place his mouth on and drink from the place where I had drunk.” (Nasai, Taharah, 177)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) regarded the actions which would increase the love between him and his wives as very important. The following mirthful incident is a good example in this regard.

“One day when Abu Bakr (r.a.) asked the the Prophet’s (pbuh) permission to enter, he heard his daughter Aisha speaking in a loud voice. So when he entered, he caught hold of her in order to slap her, and said:

“How could you raise your voice to the Apostle of Allah?” The Prophet (pbuh) prevented him and Abu Bakr left them angrily. The Prophet (pbuh) said to Aisha when Abu Bakr had left:

“You see, I rescued you from your father.”

Abu Bakr waited for some days then asked the Apostle of Allah’s (pbuh) permission to enter, and found that they had reconciled with each other. He said to them:

“Bring me into your peace as you brought me into your war.”

The Prophet (pbuh) said:

“We have done so: we have done so.” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 84)

From time to time Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) had a race with Aisha (r. anha). At first our mother Aisha (r.anha) was winning the race but later Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) began to pass her and he told his beloved wife:

“This is for that earlier outstripping.” (Abu Dawud, Jihad, 61; Ibn Majah, Nikah, 50)

The following reports also show how much the Prophet (pbuh) loved his wives, treated them with compassion and emphathy, and even endured some of their inappropriate behavior.

Anas (r.a.) said that:

“Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) was with one of his wives. Another wife of his had sent him a plate of food. The wife who was with the Messenger of Allah got jealous and hit the plate and broke it. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said while he was cleaning up the broken plate and food on the ground:

“Your mother got jealous. Let’s eat here.” Those who were present ate the food. Allah’s Messenger held the pieces of the broken plate until his wife brought a new plate and compensated for it. Then he left the broken pieces to her.” (Nasai, Ishrat al-Nisa, 4)

Jalal al-Din Rumi (q.s.) mentioned in the following eloquent words how women should be approached with love and leniency:

“The water is superior to the fire. It attacks and prevails over the fire by its dreaded onset, (but) the fire makes it seethe when it (the water) is placed in the cauldron. When a cauldron comes between (them), O king, it (the fire) annihilates the water and converts it into air.

If outwardly you are dominating your wife, like the fire-quenching water, (yet) inwardly you are dominated and are seeking your wife’s love. This is characteristic of Man (alone): to the (other) animals love is wanting, and that (lack of love) arises from (their) inferiority (to Man).

 The Prophet said that woman prevails exceedingly over the wise and intelligent, (While), on the other hand, ignorant men prevail over woman, for in them the fierceness of the animal is imprisoned.

They lack tenderness, kindness, and affection, because the animal characteristic predominates over their (human) nature. Love and tenderness are human qualities; anger and lust are animal qualities.” (Mathnawi, I, verses: 2429-2436)

Safiyah (r. anha) narrated:

On a journey I was with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). I began to snooze. He touched me with one of his hand while saying:

“Hey! O daughter of Huyay! O Safiyah!” (Ibn Hajar, al-Matalib, II, 417)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) always treated his wives nicely and made jokes with them. Qasim b. Muhammad narrated one of the jokes that the Prophet (pbuh) made about the end of his life:

“Aisha (r. anha) once got sick and said, “O my head!” Allah’s Apostle said,

“If that (i.e., your death) should happen while I am still alive, I would ask Allah to forgive you and would invoke Allah for you.”

Aisha said, “O my life which is going to be lost! By Allah, I think that you wish for my death, and if that should happen then you would be busy enjoying the company of one of your (other) wives during your last days.” The Prophet changed the subject saying:

“But I am the one who should say, “O my head!”…” (Bukhari, Ahkam, 51; Muslim, Fada’il al-Sahabah, 11)

The following words of the Prophet (pbuh) also give us an opinion about how much he loved his wives:

“I asked my Lord to let every woman that I got married to enter Paradise with me. And He accepted my supplication.” (Hakim, III, 148; Haythami, X, 17)

In short, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) loved his wives very much and tolerated some of their offences, so he provided a peaceful private environment for them.

2. His Respect for His Wives

Allah the Almighty warns men in the nineteenth verse of the fourth chapter of the Qur’an saying “consort with them in kindness” (al-Nisa 4; 19) and orders them to cherish their women. In the life of the Prophet (pbuh) women reached such a level of respect and standing in their society that they had not enjoyed. The report narrated by Umar (r.a.) is one of the best witnesses of this truth:

“We were such people among Quraish that we dominated our women, and as we reached Medina we found there people who were dominated by their women, and our women began to learn the customs of their women. He further said:

“And my house was situated in the suburb of Aledina of the tribe of Banu Umayya b. Zaid. One day I became angry with my wife and she retorted. I did not like that she should retort. She said:

“You disapprove of my retorting. By Allah, the wives of Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) retort, and one of them refuses to see him for the day until the night.” So I went out and visited Hafsa and said:

“Do you respond Allah’s Messenger (pbuh)?” She said:

“Yes.” I said. Does any one of you refuse to see him from the day to the night?” She said:

“Yes.” I continued by saying:

“She who did like it amongst you in fact failed and lost out. Does nobody amongst you fear the wrath of Allah upon her due to the anger of His Messenger (pbuh), and (as a result thereof) she may perish? So do not retort against Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) and do not ask him for anything, but ask me that which you desire” (Muslim, Talaq, 34)

Because Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) valued his wives and recognized their right to talk out, other believing women also benefited from this right and began to enjoy the honor of freedom of speech.

It is the exemplary way of the Prophet’s manifestation of his love and esteem for his wives to tell them how virtuous they were, to show his love for them, to take them on his mount, to offer his knee to help them step on it to get on their mounts, and to wipe their tears away and console them.

While women who were menstruating were inhumanely treated during the age of ignorance, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) tried to do away with this understanding. He had the following conversation with his wife who was unwilling to get him a prayer rug:

The Prophet (pbuh) said:

“Get me the mat from the mosque” His wife answered saying:

“I am menstruating.” Upon which he remarked:

“Your menstruation is not in your hands.” (Muslim, Hayd, 11) Thus, he rationally explained his wife’s situation. Moreover, in order to show his esteem to his wives the Prophet (pbuh) used to lean on his wife’s lap and even recite the Qur’an while she was in menses. (Bukhari, Hayd, 2, 13)

The Prophet’s way of making his wives feel valued was not something temporary and momentary but the traces of a rooted life-style. The following application of the Prophet (pbuh) also clearly supports this point:

Everyday Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) would visit his wives twice and check on their state, one after the dawn prayer and one after the late afternoon prayer. (Bukhari, Talaq, 8; Muslim, Talaq, 20) He did not neglect this practice even on the day he got married with Zainab bint Jahsh (r. anha). He visited all his wives starting with Aisha and said:

“Peace and Allah’s Mercy be on you, O the people of the house!” They replied,

“The peace and the mercy of Allah be on you too. How did you find your wife?” and congratulated him saying

“May Allah bless you.” (Bukhari, Tafsir, 33/8)

The following narration of Aisha (r. anha) also shows the extent of Prophet’s sensitivity towards his wives:

“After offering the Sunna of the Dawn prayer, the Prophet (pbuh) used to talk to me, if I happen to be awake; otherwise he would lie down until the Iqama call was proclaimed (for the Dawn prayer).” (Bukhari, Tahajjud, 24; Muslim, Musafirun, 133)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) personally helped his wives watch holiday entertainments. Aisha (r. anha) narrated:

“It was a holiday. The Black people were playing with shields and spears; so either I requested the Prophet (pbuh) or he asked me whether I would like to see the display. I replied in the affirmative. Then the Prophet (pbuh) made me stand behind him and my cheek was touching his cheek and he was saying,

“Carry on! O Bani Arfida,” until I got tired. The Prophet (pbuh) asked me,

“Are you satisfied (Is that sufficient for you)?” After I replied in the affirmative, he told me to leave.” (Bukhari, I’dain, 3; Muslim, I’dain, 19)

It is impossible to witness an oppressive instance in the life of Allah’s Messenger (pbuh). He would listen to his family and help them as much as he can. He did not like to see them in distress and would use every opportunity to make them happy. Sometimes he would ask his wives to recite poems and sometimes he himself would tell them stories or listen to theirs.[2] For instance he had listened to Aisha (r. anha) recounting the narration of Umm Zar’ about eleven women talking about the characteristics of their husbands. The related part of the narration reads as follows:

“The eleventh one said,

“My husband is Abu Zar’ and what should I tell you about him? He has given me many ornaments and my ears are heavily loaded with them and my arms have become fat (i.e., I have become fat). And he has pleased me, and I have become so happy that I feel proud of myself. He found me with my family who were mere sheep owners and living in poverty, and brought me to a respected family having horses and camels and threshing and purifying grain. Whatever I say, he does not rebuke or insult me. When I sleep, I sleep until late in the morning, and when I drink water (or milk), I drink my fill. The mother of Abu Zar’ and what may one say in praise of the mother of Abu Zar? Her saddle bags were always full of provision and her house was spacious. As for the son of Abu Zar, what may one say of the son of Abu Zar? His bed is as narrow as an unsheathed sword and an arm of a kid (of four months) satisfies his hunger. As for the daughter of Abu Zar, she is obedient to her father and to her mother. She has a fat well-built body and that arouses the jealousy of her husband’s other wife. As for the (maid) slave girl of Abu Zar’, what may one say of the (maid) slave girl of Abu Zar’? She does not uncover our family secrets but keeps them to herself, and does not waste our provisions and does not leave the rubbish scattered everywhere in our house.” Then the eleventh lady added, “One day it so happened that Abu Zar’ went out at the time when the milk was being milked from the animals, and he saw a woman on his way … (On seeing her) he divorced me and married her. Thereafter, I married a noble man who used to ride a fast tireless horse and keep a spear in his hand and bring home many cows and camels in the evening. He gave me many things, and also a pair of every kind of livestock he brought and said,

“O Um Zar’, Eat, drink, and give provision to your relatives.” She added, “Yet, all those things which my second husband gave me could not fill the smallest utensil of Abu Zar’s.”

Aisha then said:

“Allah’s Apostle said to me,

“O Aisha! I am to you just like Abu Zar’ was to his wife Umm Zar’.” (Bukhari, Nikah, 82; Muslim, Fada’il al-Sahabah, 92)

The following narration is also remarkable in showing how much the Prophet (pbuh) knew and cherished his family:

It was narrated by Aisha (r.anha) that

“Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) told me,

“I know when you are pleased with me or angry with me.” I said,

“How do you know that?” He said,

“When you are pleased with me, you say, ‘No, by the Lord of Muhammad,’ but when you are angry with me, then you say, ‘No, by the Lord of Abraham.’” Thereupon I told him,

“Yes (you are right), but by Allah, O Allah’s Apostle, when I am angry I leave nothing except mentioning your name.” (Bukhari, Nikah, 108; Muslim, Fada’il al-Sahabah, 80)

According to a narration of Anas (r.a.) Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) stated his love for Khadijah (r. anha) as follows:

“The most superior women on earth are these: Mary the daughter of Imran, Khadijah the daughter of Huwaylid, Fatima the daughter of Muhammad, and Asiyah the Pharaoh’s wife.” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 61)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) displayed his love for Aisha as follows:

“And no doubt, the superiority of Aisha to other women is like the superiority of Tharid (i.e. a meat and bread dish) to other meals.” (Bukahri, Fada’il al-Ashab, 30; Anbiya, 45)

Our beloved Prophet (pbuh) warned his Companions who were hurtful and offensive to their families, commanded them to avoid such behavior, and taught them how to treat their families. Hudahifa (r.a.) narrated:

“I was a little harsh when talking to my family, but I was polite towards other people. When I presented my situation to the Messenger of Allah, he said to me:

“What is the situation with regards to repenting? Repent seventy times a day for the forgiveness of your offence.” (Ibn Majah, Adab, 57)

3. His Education to His Wives

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) taught Islam and gave Islamic education first in his home to his wives; for a well-educated wife can be a sincere friend to her husband, a good mother for her children and a guarantee for them to get better Islamic education.

When talking about education, both religious education and the knowledge of the basic principles of Islam must be the first thing coming into a believer’s mind. Then the other fields of education can be considered. This is because the former is the means to earn eternal salvation, whereas the latter helps to continue with life in this temporary world. Here is how Allah the Almighty attracts our attention to the significance of a strong education for the family:

“And enjoin prayer on your family, and steadily adhere to it; We do not ask you for subsistence; We do give you subsistence, and the (good) end is for guarding (against evil).” (Taha 20; 132)

This verse points out the significance of not just religious education in general but also of the education of prayer in particular. Families which pay attention to this matter will be bestowed with abundant blessings, they will live a pious life and consequently, their end will be happiness.

The Prophet (pbuh) followed the order of Allah the Almighty and paid attention to his family’s education. For instance he would perform the sunnah of the dawn prayer at home, wake his family up for the prayer, and then go to the mosque to perform the rest of the prayer in congregation. (Ibn Hanbal, VI, 236) He would usually perform the supererogatory prayers at home and order his Companions to do the same. Qa’b b. Ujra (r.a.) narrated:

“Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) performed the evening (mahgrib) prayer at the mosque of Abd al-Ashhal clan. People began to perform the supererogatory prayers after the obligatory cycles. The Prophet (pbuh) said:

“This is the prayer of the homes.” (Abu Dawud, Tatawwu’, 15; Nasai, Qiyam al-Layl, 1)

Allah’s Messenger also praised married couples who encourage each other to wake up before dawn for tahajjud prayer:

“May Allah have mercy on a man who gets up at night and prays, and awakens his wife; if she refuses, he should sprinkle water on her face. May Allah have mercy on a woman who gets up at night and prays, and awakens her husband; if he refuses, she should sprinkle water on his face.” (Abu Dawud, Tatawwu, 18)

However it should not be forgotten that in order to follow the Prophet’s advise, one should establish a family based on love; so that the spouse would be able to smile and wake up when the other spouse sprinkles water on their face.

People’s protection from Hell fire depends on good education received in the family. Our Lord, the most Merciful, says in the Qur’an:

“O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones…” (al-Tahrim 66; 6)

Ali (r.a.) explains this verse as follows:

“The order to save yourselves and your families from Hellfire means to teach goodness, knowledge, and manners to yourselves and your families.”

Ibn Abbas (r. anhuma) interprets this verse saying:

“Get your family members accustomed to obedience to Allah and warn them about sins. Command your family to remember Allah so that Allah may save you from Hell-fire.” (Tabari, XXVIII, 211-212)

Similarly Zaid b. Aslam (r.a.) said about the exegesis of this verse:

“When this verse was revealed, the Companions asked:

“O Messenger of Allah! We might be able to protect ourselves but how are we going to save our families?”

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said that: “Command them to be a servant to Allah the Almighty, to obey and to worship Him. Prohibit them from disobeying Allah and from commiting sins. This is how you will be able to save them.” (Alusi, XXVIII, 156)

The Messenger of Allah often preferred the method of preaching about his families’ education and discipline. Preaching was the most important prophetic method in educating his Companions and family members. Based on this, the righteous believers of Allah meticulously applied this method in their lives. Shah Naqshiband (q.s.) even said that “طريق ما در صحبتست” “our way depends upon preaching/friendly conversation.”

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) sometimes had private conversations with one of his wives and sometimes gathered them and talked to them as a group. He followed this custom duing his entire life. He continued to visit his wives every day after performing the dawn prayer and after performing the late afternoon prayer. (Abu Dawud, Nikah, 38; Ibn Sa’d, VIII, 85) At night, his wives used to gather in the house where the Prophet (pbuh) would spend the night. (Muslim, Rada’, 46; Ibn Hanbal, VI, 107, 157)

Because educating people was the most important task of the Prophet (pbuh), his life passed by conveying the message of Islam. Before anybody else, he warned his family against mischief and encouraged them to be prepared for the Hereafter. Umm Salama (r. anha) narrated:

“One night Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) got up and said,

“Subhan Allah! How many afflictions have been descended tonight and how many treasures have been disclosed! O people of my family! Wake up! Many a well-dressed (soul) in this world will be naked in the Hereafter.” (Bukhari, ‘Ilm, 40)

The Prophet (pbuh) once warned Aisha (r.a.) with the following remarkable words:

“O Aisha! Be careful about belittled actions (sins which are seen as little matters); for there is an angel of Allah who is recording them.” (Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 29; Darimi, Riqaq, 17)

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was especially sensitive about matters related to faith. It was narrated by Aisha (r.a.):

“I had bought a pillow with pictures upon it. Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) returned from a journey and stopped at the door and did not enter. I said:

“If I made a mistake, I can repent.” He asked:

“What is this pillow?” I said:

“I bought it for you to sit and lean on.” He tore it and said,

“The people who will receive the severest punishment on the Day of Resurrection will be the makers of these pictures. They will be asked to give life to their pictures. Angels do not enter the houses where there are pictures.” (Bukhari, Libas, 92)[3]

Here are some more examples for the Prophet’s warnings to his wives: Umm Salama (r. anha) narrated:

“The Prophet (pbuh) came to me while my brother Abdullah was having a chat with an effeminate man. I heard him (i.e. the effeminate man) saying to brother,

“O Abdullah! See if Allah should make you conquer Ta’if tomorrow, then take the daughter of Ghailan (in marriage)” and then began to talk about her feminine characteristics. Upon this the Prophet (pbuh) then said,

“These (men like this effeminate one) should never enter your abode.” From that day on effeminate men were not allowed to enter the houses of the mothers of the believers. (Bukhari, Maghazi, 56; Muslim, Salam, 32)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) once ordered his wives to hide behind the curtains when one of his blind Companions came to visit him. (Abu Dawud, Libas, 34; Tirmidhi, Adab, 29)

Aisha the wife of Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) reported that

“One day Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) left my apartment during the night and I felt jealous. Then he came and he saw in what agitated state of mind I was. He said:

“O Aisha, what has happened to you? Do you feel jealous?” Thereupon, I said:

“How could a woman like me not feel jealous about a husband like you?” Thereupon, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said:

“It was your devil who came to you,” and she said:

“O Messenger of Allah, is there a devil with me?” He said:

“Yes, there is.” I said:

“Is there a devil with everyone?” He said:

“Yes, there is.” I told him again:

“O Allah’s Messenger, is there a devil with you, too? He said:

“Yes, but my Lord has helped me fight against him so that I am absolutely safe from his mischief.” (Muslim, Munafiqun, 70; Nasai, Ishrat al-Nisa, 4)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) not only taught his family that jealousy is a devilish attribute but also warned them to always be careful about the Devil’s tricks.

When Hafsa (r. anha) hurt our mother Safiyyah (r. anha), Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) consoled Safiyyah and reproached Hafsa for her incorrect behaviour. Anas (r.a.) narrated this incident as follows:

“Safiyyah (r. anha) began to cry when Hafsa (r. anha) looked down on her saying “daughter of a Jew.” Just then the Prophet (pbuh) entered and asked:

“Why are you crying?” Safiyyah replied:

“Hafsa called me the daughter of a Jew.” Allah’s Messenger consoled her saying:

“You are a prophet’s daughter and your uncle was also a prophet,[4] and you are also a prophet’s wife. Then by which characteristic of hers was she bragging about?” and then he turned to Hafsa:

“O Hafsa! Fear Allah.” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 63)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) reacted patiently and leniently towards his wives’ annoying behavior like jealousy, disobedience, and worldly ambition. Even when his wives did something inappropriate, he did not say anything which would hurt their feelings and break their hearts. He just showed his disapproval by his facial expressions. Even during the infamous incident of ‘Ila[5] he did not say anything hurtful, but just did not go to their apartments for a month. (Muslim, Talak, 29, 34-35; Ibn Hanbal, I, 34)

Here is another example of the Prophet educating his wives:

It was narrated by Aisha (r. anha):

“Safiyyah’s camel got injured during a journey. Zainab had an extra mount with her. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) asked Zainab:

“Why do not you give one of your mounts to Safiyyah?” When she refused to give it saying:

“Am I going to give it to this Jewess?” Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) became very angry and he did not go to her apartment for the moths of Dhilhijjah, Muharram, and part of Safar. (Abu Dawud, Sunnah, 3; Ibn Hanbal, VI, 261)

The Prophet’s anger was to teach his followers the wrongness of belittling a person because of an accidental attribute such as race, lineage, tribe, or country. He also taught and warned about the wrongness of showing indifference in the care of the needy.

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) also educated his wives about charity. One day a type of lizard was brought to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) as a present. Because he did not like to eat lizards, Aisha (r. anha) asked permission to give it to a poor person that passed by the door. Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) told her:

“Do not give to the needy the things that you do not eat yourself.” (Ibn Hanbal, VI, 105, 123)

Aisha (r.anha) narrated that:

“I said to the Prophet (pbuh):

“It is enough for you that Safiyyah is such and such.[6]” He replied:

“You have said a word which would spoil the sea if it were mixed in it.” She continued:

“Another day I imitated a man before him (out of disgrace).” He said:

“I would not like to imitate anyone even if I were given the most precious things in the world.” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 35; Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 51)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) did not approve of his wives insulting each other and taught them the appropriate behavior till the end of his life when the mothers of the believers gathered around the Prophet’s death bed. Safiyyah (r. anha) said:

“O Messenger of Allah! By Allah I want to have the same hardship that you have.” The Prophet’s other wives tried to insult her by using facial expressions. Even though the Prophet (pbuh) did not see what they had done, he said:

“Go and wash your mouths.” They asked surprisedly:

“Why should we wash our mouths?” He said:

“For insulting Safiyyah by your eyes and eye brows … By Allah she is a sincere person.” (Ibn Hajar, al-Isabah, IV, 348)

Below is another example of the guidance of Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) to his family and relatives:

Aisha (r. anha) was sitting with her sister Asma. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) entered. Asma was wearing thin and loose Damascene dress. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) left the room as soon as he saw Asma. Aisha (r. anha) told her sister:

“Leave! The Prophet (pbuh) saw something with you that he does not like.” When Asma left, the Prophet (pbuh) came back. Aisha (r. anha) asked him the reason for his behavior:

“Don’t you see? A believing woman is not allowed to show her body more than this.” Then he pulled the sleeves of his shirt and covered up to his fingers. And he covered his temples with his finger and left his face uncovered. (Haythami, V, 137)

Thus, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) personally described and showed Aisha (r. anha) without leaving any doubt how a believing lady should cover herself.

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) also changed the names which were not compatible with the Islamic faith as part of his education.[7] Indeed some of the names of believers’ mothers, i.e. Juwairiyah, Zainab bint Jahsh, and Maimunah, are the result of this prophetic sensitivity. (Muslim, Adab, 14-19; Ibn Sa’d, VIII, 118, 138)

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh), who regarded praying as very important in every aspect of life, taught his family several prayers. For instance, Aisha (r. anha) reported that the Prophet (pbuh) advised her to say the following supplication:

“O Allah! I ask from You all kinds of goodness, the immediate ones and the delayed ones, the ones that I know and the ones that I do not know. I seek refuge in You from all kinds of harm, the immediate ones and the delayed ones, the ones that I know and the ones that I do not know. O Allah! I ask from You the goodness that was asked by Your servant and Your Prophet. And I seek refuge in You from the harm which Your servant and Your Prophet sought refuge in You. O Allah! I ask from You the Paradise and the word and deed that get closer to Paradise. I seek refuge in You from the Hell and the word and deed that get closer to the Hell. I ask from You to turn every judgment that You give about me into goodness for me.” (Ibn Majah, Dua’, 4; Ibn Hanbal, VI, 134)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) asked for help from some of the well-educated women Companions for the education of his wives. It was narrated by Shifa’ bint Abdullah:

“The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) entered when I was with Hafsa, and he said to me:

“Why don’t you teach her the spell for skin eruptions as you taught her writing?” (Abu Dawud, Tibb, 18)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) educated his family members about faith, worship, and manners, so they became ready for not only the life in this world but also the life in the Hereafter. And thus they have become very talented teachers showing the straight path to the followers of the Prophet (pbuh).

4. His Consultation of His Wives

“Those who consult do not regret.” (Haythami, II, 280)

The Arabic word istashara which literally means to get honey from a hive, denotes to ask or seek advice, to consult, to take counsel with.

Establishing an opinion by benefiting from various minds and experiences is similar to making honey by gathering pollen from various flowers and offering it to people. Allah the Almighty addresses His Messenger (pbuh) in the Qur’an:

“And take counsel with them in (your) affairs; so when you have decided, then place your trust in Allah; surely Allah loves those who trust.” (Al-i Imran 3; 159) and thus Allah the Almighty expresses the significance of counseling and shows us its method.

When Allah the Almighty mentions the characteristics of believers in the Qur’an, He states “…and their affair is to take counsel among themselves…” (al-Shura 42; 38) after counting the qualities of faith, trust in Allah, abstaining from committing sins, controlling anger and forgiveness. Therefore counseling is stated among the necessary qualities of the believers.

In the following saying, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) expressed how counseling comforts one’s soul and reduces mistakes to the minimum:

“Those who perform istahara٭ will not be disappointed and those who counsel will not regret and those who spend moderately will not become poor.” (Haythami, II, 280)

However, one should be careful about choosing the people from whom one takes one’s counsel. In this respect, Umm Salama (r. anha) narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:

“One whose advice is sought must be someone trustworthy.” (Tirmidhi, Adab, 57)

Consulting occupied a very important place in the life of Allah’s Messenger (pbuh). Abu Hurairah (r.a.) said that:

“I have not seen anybody who seeks counsel from his friends more than the Messenger of Allah.” (Tirmidhi, Jihad, 35)

Allah’s Messenger especially advised to consult with women regarding their personal affairs:

“Take counsel with women in their affairs.” (Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-Ghabah, IV, 15)

“A woman without a husband (or divorced or a widow) must not be married until she is consulted, and a virgin must not be married until her permission is sought.” (Muslim, Nikah, 64)

Likewise, he (pbuh) said:

Consult women about (the marriage of) their daughters.” (Abu Dawud, Nikah, 22-23) and thus advised not to wed girls without consulting their mothers first.

The Holy Qur’an expresses the necessity of consultation between spouses as follows:

“…If they desire to wean the child by mutual consent and (after) consultation, it is no sin for them…” (al-Baqara 2; 233)

As it is pointed out in this verse, when spouses seek each other’s opinion and agree upon something, they make fewer mistakes. Because of acting based on due diligence, at least they will not be held responsible even if they do not reach the right decision.

When we examine the life of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), we see that he sought his wives’ advice in every aspect of life, even though he did not need anybody’s advice; because he received revelations from Allah the Almighty and spoke with Gabriel. However, he became an example for his followers and showed them the significance of counseling. He personally applied in his family what he ordered his followers to do.

Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) considered his wives’ suggestions seriously and did not oppose them unless they were against the principles of Islam. In fact, his daughter Zainab’s marriage with Abu al-As was conducted as a result of his wife Khadijah’s proposal. The narrator of this incident said that:

“Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) would not oppose Khadijah (r. anha).” (Haythami, IX, 213)

During the days when he was given the prophetic mission, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) revealed his situation first to Khadijah and took her counsel. She comforted him and took him to her cousin Waraqa (Bukhari, Shahadat, 16)

Regarding this, Aisha (r. anha) said that:

“Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) asked Zainab bint Jahsh about me saying,

“O Zainab! What do you know and what did you see?” She replied:

“O Allah’s Apostle! I refrain from claiming to have heard and seen what I have not heard or seen. By Allah, I know nothing except goodness about Aisha.” Aisha further added:

“Zainab competed with me in her beauty and in some other qualities, yet Allah protected her from being malicious, because of her piety and righteousness.” (Bukhari, Shahadat, 15, 30; Muslim, Tawbah, 56)

After the Hudaibiyah treaty, the believers manifested their discontent with its articles. Allah’s Messenger had ordered them saying“Slaughter your animals, shave your heads and exit your ihram” but they acted slowly when fulfilling this order. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) angrily went to Umm Salamah’s tent. When our mother asked him:

“O Messenger of Allah! What is wrong?” he told her:

“O Umm Salama! What a strange incident! I told people several times to slaughter their animals, shave their heads and so exit their ihrams. Even though they heard what I said, not a single one of them followed my order.” Thereupon, Umm Salama (r. anha) said to him:

“O Prophet of Allah! Do you want your order to be carried out? Go out and don’t say a word to anybody till you have slaughtered your sacrifice and call your barber to shave your head. Then they will certainly follow your orders.” So, the Prophet went out and did not talk to anyone of them till he did that, i.e. slaughtered the sacrifice and called his barber who shaved his head. Seeing that, the Companions of the Prophet got up, slaughtered their sacrifices, and started shaving the heads of one another, and there they were in such a rush that there was a danger of killing each other. (Bukhari, Shurut, 15; Ibn Hanbal, IV, 326, 331; Waqidi, II, 613)

Good manners need to be applied even under the most difficult of circumstances and should not be easily given up in the face of hardships. Our excellent exemplar, the Prophet (pbuh), did not give up his excellent morals even at the end of his life. He closed his eyes to this world still commited to his best morals. Even during the severest times of his illness, he consulted his wives’ opinions and manifested the most excellent example of the concept of justice. One day Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) gathered all his wives and asked their permission to allow him to stay in Aisha’s house. He told them:

“Where am I going to be tomorrow?” They replied his question. Some of them said:

“Obviously Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) wants to stay at the apartment of Abu Bakr’s daughter.” So they accepted his request saying:

“O messenger of Allah! We are like sisters so we accept that you stay with her.” Allah’s Apostle dressed in his upper shirt and came out with the help of his relatives and went towards Aisha’s apartment.

Aisha narrates this incident as follows:

“When the health of Allah’s Apostle deteriorated and his condition became serious, he askedall his wives’ permission to allow himself to be treated in my house, and they allowed him. He came out, supported by two men and his legs were dragging on the ground between Abbas and another man. (Bukhari, Tibb, 22; Ibn Hanbal, VI, 34, 38; Balazuri, Ansab, I, 545)

The love of Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) for Aisha (r. anha) must be because of her smartness, gift of knowledge, and her deep understanding the Book of Allah.

5. Helping His Wives

“Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) was a human being. He used to sew his clothes, milk his sheep, and do his work by himself.” (Ibn Hanbal, VI, 256)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) tells us that we will be rewarded for our services to all living beings (Bukhari, Shirb, 9) and he himself manifested the best examples of serving the creation. This is why it is not hard to understand how compassionate and kind he was towards his family. He saw women as the trusts from Allah and treated them with the utmost sensitivity and kindness. Even though his wives showed great attention to him and interest in serving him, he tried to do his own work; he cleaned his clothes, milked his animals, mended his clothes and shoes, swept his house, fed his animals, and carried things he had bought from the market. He did not like to be a burden upon others.

Aisha (r. anha) was asked about the Prophet’s life at home at various times, she gave the following responses:

“Like you do, he would mend his shoes and sew his clothes.” (Ibn Hanbal, VI, 106)

“Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) was a human being. He used to sew his clothes, milk his sheep, and do his work by himself.” (Ibn Hanbal, VI, 256)

“He used to work for his family, and when he heard the Adhan (call for prayer), he would go out.” (Bukhari, Adhaan, 44, Nafaqat, 8; Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 45)

There are many reports about the Prophet helping his wives and their appreciation for his help. Some of them are as follows:

Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) folded a cloak and placed it on the hump of the camel behind him so as to make a comfortable place for Safiya to sit. He knelt beside his camel so that Safiya could put her feet on his knee in order to mount the camel. (Bukhari, Jihad, 102; Muslim, Nikah, 464)

Likewise, when her camel knelt down making our mother Safiya fall off during a pilgrimage journey. She began to cry and the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) wiped her tears. (Muhibbuddin al-Tabari, al-Samtu al-Thamin, p. 143)

Aisha (r. anha) narrated another incident about the Messenger (pbuh) helping her in the kitchen as follows:

“I was sitting with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) at home. My father Abu Bakr gave us some lambs’ feet as a gift. We cut them up in the darkness. Someone who was listening to her asked:

“Did not you have a lamp?” Aisha (r. anha) replied:

“Had we had some oil to put it in our lamp, we would certainly have mixed it in our meal and ate it.” (See Ahmad, VI, 217; Ibn Sa’d, I, 405)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) also helped to look after his children. One day when he was in his daughter Fatima’s home, first Hasan and then Husain asked for water. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) got up and gave water first to Hasan and then to Husain. He then said to Fatima who interpreted the Prophet’s action as him loving Hasan more:

“No. Hasan asked first” and then added:

“Treat your children equally in your gifts and donations. If I held some of them superior to the others, I would hold girls superior.” (Ibn Hajar, al-Matalib al-Aliya, IV, 69; Haythami, IV, 153)

In this context Ali (r.a.) narrated the following incident:

“Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) had come to us. Husain had asked something to drink. The Prophet (pbuh) stood up and went to our sheep and milked her. Just then Hasan came to the Messenger of Allah and wanted to drink the milk, but the Prophet (pbuh) gave it first to Husain. Fatima said:

“O Messenger of Allah! It seems that you love Husain more.” He said:

“No, I do not, but he asked first.” (Ibn Hanbal, I, 101)

One day our Prophet (pbuh) called his granddaughter Umama. When he saw that she had some dirt next to her eyes, he cleaned them. (Ibn Sa’d, VIII, 233)

Aisha (r. anha) narrated:

“Uthama b. Zaid tripped on the door step and fell down. His face got injured and began to bleed. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) became concerned and told me:

“Would you clean the child’s face?” I hesistated a little. Upon which he got up and cleaned the blood off and washed Uthama’s face. Then he told me:

“If Uthama had been a girl, I would embellish her with jewelry, put nice dresses on her, and make her attractive.” (Ibn Majah, Nikah, 49; Ibn Sa’d, IV, 61-62)

Uthama, the son of Prophet’s freed-slave Zaid b. Haritha, was a Companion blessed by the Prophet’s love and known as “Hibb al-Nabi or the one who was loved by the Prophet most.” All his life he fought as the commander of the Muslim army to spread Islam. One reason for the Prophet’s deep love for Uthama was that our Prophet (pbuh) was like a father to him; because his father Zaid (r.a.) had been martyred. Thus, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) embraced and protected the orphaned son of his Companion as if he were his own son.

Even though Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) helped his family in every aspect of life, today believers do not appropriately follow this prophetic custom. Those who think that helping their family is contrary to their manhood should know that this is not something to be ashamed of. On the contrary, it is the practice of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). In other words, the more we help our family the more we follow in the Prophet’s path. Attituted that are contrary to this do not represent how a believer’s behavior should be. However, it should also be noted that a believer cannot obey and fulfill his wife’s unislamic requests.

6. Taking care of His Family’s Needs

One of the most important duties of the head of a family is to earn his family’s provision and to satisfy its needs. Allah the Almighty has charged the men with this responsibility. This is expressed in a verse as follows:

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means.” (al-Nisa 4; 34)

The word “qawwam,” which is mentioned as an attribute of men in this verse, is interpreted as “the men who provide for women’s needs, protect them from all kinds of harms, and do the hard work outside of the house.” It is also understood as “the men who teach and discipline their wives, follow their actions, and hold their hands in matters required to be done for the sake of Allah and in matters they need to do in this world.” In another verse, Allah the Almighty says:

“…The duty of feeding and clothing nursing mothers in a seemly manner is upon the father of the child…” (al-Baqarah 2; 233)

In order to provide his family’s provision Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) worked as much as needed. He emphasized that such efforts will be counted as acts of worship and charity saying:

“Of the dinar you spend as a contribution in Allah’s path, or to set free a slave, or as a sadaqa given to a needy person, or to support your family, the one yielding the greatest reward is that which you spent on your family.” (Muslim, Zakat, 39)

In a lengthy narration reported by Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas (r.a.), the Prophet (pbuh) addressed him saying:

“You will be rewarded for whatever you spend for Allah’s sake even if it were a morsel which you put in your wife’s mouth.” (Bukhari, Iman, 41; Muslim, Vasiyyah, 5)

In other words one will even be rewarded for the money he spends and for his efforts to provide for his family’s needs. Then he will be able to consume his lawfully provided food in the happiness of his home with his family. To be able to put a morsel in one’s wife’s mouth, as it was expressed in the above mentioned prophetic saying, he needs to act with happiness, sincerity, and moral maturity in his home. One should treat his wife just as the Prophet (pbuh) treated his wives so that he could win her heart and make jokes with each other; for the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was extremely tactful, polite, and tolerant towards his family.

Our mother Aisha (r. anha) says that:

“Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) would be the most jolly and gentle of people when he was alone with his family.” (Ali al-Muttaqi, VII, 222)

Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) took every measure to provide for his family’s needs and did not leave them in privation. He advised his followers that it is better to leave their families rich than to leave them poor, begging from people. (Bukhari, Janaiz, 36; Muslim, Wasiyya, 5)

In the following report Anas b. Malik (r.a.) expressed how much the Prophet (pbuh) attached significance to provide for his family’s needs.

“Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) borrowed some barley from a Jewish man and left his armor as surety. Just then I heard that the Prophet (pbuh) said that:

“The household of Muhammad did not possess even a single Sa’[8] of wheat or food grains for the evening meal, although he has nine wives to look after.” (Bukhari, Buyu’, 14)

The Prophet used to sell the dates of the garden of Bani An-Nadir and store enough food for his family to cover their needs for a whole year. He would leave the rest to the state treasury. He maintained this custom all his life. (Bukhari, Nafaqat, 3; Muslim, Jihad, 49)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) obtained some camels to provide a living for his family. Every other day this camel herd used to be grazed on the pastures of Uhud and al-Jamma. When the camels returned from the pastures, they would be milked and their milk first would be offered to the guests. And Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) would share the rest of the milk with his wives. Umm Salama (r. anha) also reported that the Prophet (pbuh) reserved a special camel for each one of his wives and he, himself, owned the most productive milk camel. She also stated that they had mostly provided for their provision from camels and sheep. (Ibn Sa’d, I, 494-96)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) built a humble but separate apartment for every one of his wives and thus he also fulfilled their needs of residence. Our Prophet (pbuh) stated that a head of a family could not gain tranquility without providing a nice residence for his family saying:

“There are three things that make a person happy: a pious woman, a nice house, and a nicemount. And the three things that make a person unhappy are an evil wife, a shabby house, and a badmount.” (Ibn Hanbal, I, 168)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) not only provided for his family’s needs when he was alive but also thought about what would happen to them after his death saying: “thinking about your situation is one of the things that makes me sad.” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 25)

When the Prophet’s wives had been given to choose either life in this world or life in the Hereafter, they chose the latter. This was why Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) did not leave them a great amount of wealth; however, he did not forget to allocate 80 wasq[9] of dates and 20 wasq of wheat for each one of his wives. (Ibn Sa’d, VIII, 56, 69, 127)

The head of a family should satisfy his family’s every need. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) warned those who neglected this duty because of being occupied with other acts of piety or for another reason saying:

“It is sin enough for a man that he withholds the subsistence from one whose master he is.” (Muslim, Zakat, 40; Abu Dawud, Zakat, 45)

Uthman b. Ma’dhun’s wife Hawla bint Hakim was a lady who used to wear nice clothes. One day she came to Aisha (r.anha) in a shabby dress. Our mother asked her:

“What happened to you?” She said:

“My husband prays at nights and fasts during the days.” Just then the Prophet (pbuh) entered the room. Aisha (r. anha) told him everything. After which Allah’s Messenger talked to Uthman saying:

“Uthman we are not commanded with priesthood. Am I not an excellent exemplar for you? By Allah! I am the most God-fearing among you and I am the most careful one among you about Allah’s boundaries.” (Ibn Hanbal, VI, 226; Ibn Hajar, Al-Isaba, IV, 291)

Allah the Almighty bestowed great blessings on and rewarded their efforts to provide for their families’ living as an act of worship and spending on them as an act of charity. Because of this, people should accept working for their families’ needs with the same good heartedness with which they accept the acts of worship. However, one should not exaggerate and forget the Hereafter while working for this life. Actions required for the Hereafter must be meticulously fulfilled. One should wisely spend the limited time given to him in order to ensure his wellbeing both in this world and in the Hereafter.

7. The Wisdom behind the Prophet’s Polygamy

Polygamy is as old as human history. It is a part of human nature and a requirement of the struction of certain societies. It can be attributed to various causes such as society’s life style, balancing the population, local circumstances. Studies have shown that polygamy is experienced in every region and in every nation of the world. Polygamy is approved by Eastern religions like Brahmanism and Zoroastrianism and it is not prohibited by Judaism and Christianity. In fact it is stated in the Old Testament that Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, and many other prophets (peace be upon them) had multiple wives. However, people in the following ages prohibited polygamy and, following their selfish desires, they committed sins and destroyed their societies. People who criticize Islam due to its permitting polygamy are not aware that they are blinded by contemporaray bias. For many of those people have more than one relationship at the same time even though they are formally married to one person. What is worse is that they are not afraid to have such relationships openly and so they, day by day, cause corruption of the society in which they live.

Even though Islam permits polygyny, it encourages monogomy. Those who have more than one wife are confined by certain conditions and the number of marriages is limited by four. Allah the Almighty expresses in the Qur’an:

“And if you fear that you will not deal fairly with the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if you fear that you cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that you will not do injustice.” (al-Nisa 4; 3)

When this verse was revealed, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) ordered his Companions who had more than four wives to choose four of their wives and to divorce the rest. (Tirmidhi, Nikah, 33; Ibn Majah, Nikah, 40)

Polygamy is expressed in the Qur’an within the context of healing social wounds and inviting believers to self-sacrifice. Polygamy may become obligatory during the times of war when the male population decreases significantly. During extraordinary circumstances when the male population diminishes because of war or some other reason and leaves many widows and orphans behind, polygamy becomes an important responsibility in order to secure the future of the society. This is an undeniable fact which may repeatedly occur in every era.

It is a proven fact that the female birth rate is more than the male birth rate. The Divine Will inclines towards a higher number of women, who play the essential role in the continuation of the generations. When all these are considered, there is nothing more understandable than the permission given by Islam for polygamy, which has presented a world view, which will survive until the end of the world. This is a manifestation of Islam’s universality and the understanding of its eternity.

On the other hand it should not be forgotten that polygyny is not “a command” but just a “permission.” Polygyny can be done for various reasons like war, sickness, disability, long-term separation, and protection in order to save families from separating and to not leave women without protection. For instance a man who married a sterile woman can get married to another woman without divorcing his first wife and thus harming her. If there is a necessity, he can marry up to four times. By this means, Islam minimizes the material and spiritual harms caused by breaking families up.

Marriage is encouraged for the continuation of human lineage, for the establishment of a strong society, for the protection of morality and chastity, for obtaining closeness to Allah the Almighty, and for increasing the number of the believers. And when there is a necessity, polygyny is the most appropriate institution to realize these goals.

Islam considers all aspects and conditions of life; so when all these requirements are examined, the reasons why Islam permitted polygamy can be understood. It has become not just the religion of healthy human beings but also the old and weak. It has become not just a religion for comfortable times but also for hard times. It has become not just the religion of men but also the religion of women by giving them their rights and protecting their needs. It is the only religion which thinks about the needs of the individual and the society and which does not permit children to be left in misery and hardships by breaking families up with no reason.

The following are the requirements asked by Islam from those who want to practice polygymy:

  1. To deal with all wives justly
  2. To have enough financial means.

In respect to fair treatment among wives Allah the Almighty says that:

“You are never able to be fair and just between women, even if it is your ardent desire: but turn not away (from a woman) altogether, so as to leave her (as it were) hanging (in the air). If you come to a friendly understanding, and practice self restraint, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (al-Nisa 4; 129)

The fairness mentioned in this verse is the kind felt in the heart. Indeed it is very hard for people to control their feelings; for heart has no will-power. In other aspects of life requirements of justice should be met. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) emphasizes this point by saying:

“If a man has two wives and does not treat them justly, he will be resurrected with one of his sides paralyzed on the Day of Judgment.” (Ibn Majah, Nikah, 47)

On the other hand, because of its drawbacks, polygymy is not completely welcomed in Islam. The difficulty ensuring equal treatment of all wives, jealousy and its possible destructive outcomes for the family show that monogamy is a healthier choice. In the above mentioned verse, Allah the Almighty also advises this and tells us that monogamy is the best way to ensure fairness. It is also understood from some reports that the Prophet (pbuh) got pledges from his son-in-laws Abu al-As and Ali (r. anhum) not to marry another woman after his daughters. (Bukhari, Ashab al-Nabi, 16; Muslim, Fada’il al-Sahaba, 96)

This shows that the Prophet (pbuh) was inclined towards monogamy. He had been married with one wife until he was fifty-five years old; however, there were some reasons and some wisdom behind him practicing polygamous marriage in the final years of his life. It is possible to enumerate some of these reasons as follows:

The Muslim state that emerged in Medina needed to establish good and sincere relations with neighboring nomadic tribes and states in order to gain strength and spread around the world. Conveying the message of Islam among women also called for women Companions close to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). Allah’s Messenger (pbuh), who was the protector of his followers, also needed to be prepared to help the needy. Because of these and other reasons, the Prophet (pbuh) got married with a number of women. Allah the Almighty gave special permission to His Messenger in this matter. Allah the Almighty even ordered His Messenger to marry Zainab bint Jahsh (r. anha). (al-Ahzab 33; 37)[10] He did not put a limit to the number of His Messenger’s marriages. (al-Ahzab 33; 50)

Moreover, believers were allowed to marry other believers’ divorced wives; but Prophet’s wives, who are considered to be the mothers of the believers, were not allowed to marry another man after the Prophet (pbuh). Because of this prohibition, they would most likely fall into hardship, if they were to be divorced by the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). And because of this, when the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had to get married for some religious or political reasons, he did not divorce his wives exceeding the limit of four.[11] It is stated in a verse:

“…that is better; that they may be comforted and not grieve, and may all be pleased with what you gave them. Allah knows what is in your hearts (O men) and Allah is Forgiving, Clement.” (al-Ahzab 33; 51)

When he was twenty five years old, he got married with Khadijah[12], who was fifteen years older than him, and they had a happy marriage for twenty five years. Having the rest of his marriages in the Medinan period shows that his marriages were mostly related to his prophetic mission.

Islam holds men and women equal in their responsibilities except in matters related to women. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh), who trained hundreds of scholars and teachers, was assited by his wives when it came to educating his female Companions. He educated his male Companions in one part of his mosque, while educating his wives as the instructors of female Companions at his blessed home. The Prophet’s wives played a very important role in learning the Islamic rules and practices related to family life and transmitting them to the entire believers.

It was not possible for the Prophet (pbuh) to teach and describe everything directly to his female Companions. Similarly, female members of the Muslim community could not always easily ask questions to the Prophet (pbuh) about Islamic regulations. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) sometimes had conversations with them, but these were not as often as the ones with his male Companions. This was why the female Companions had the Prophet’s wives be their messengers for their private matters. Moreover, sometimes when the Prophet (pbuh) gave allegorical answers to their questions, his wives were the ones who explained what the Prophet (pbuh) had really meant. (Bukhari, Hayd, 13, 14; Muslim, Hayd, 60; Abu Dawud, Taharah, 107, Darimi, Wudu, 75; Nasai, Gusl, 21; Muwatta, Taharah, 105)

Some people came to Umm Salama (r. anha) and said:

“Tell us about the secrets of the Prophet (pbuh)” She told them:

“He has no secrets.” Then she became sad for she thought that she had revealed a private matter about the Prophet’s family. She regretfully narrated the incident to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). He told her:

“You said the right thing.” (Ibn Hanbal, VI, 309)

Thus, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) let his wives reveal to the believers all his actions and behavior related to his life, no matter how subtle they were. Whereas he prohibited other people making public their family secrets in society, he permitted, even wanted, everything about his life to be known. Of course, this is a very difficult choice. Nobody could be so sure about himself as to give such permission, because people make many mistakes in their lives and letting them known may result in unfavorable consequences. However, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh), who lived by perfect morals in every aspect of his life, was able to give such permission in relation to his own life; for he was always under the Divine protection and he explained the Holy Qur’an to humanity by living it in his life. This is why his life had to be transmitted to his followers with all its details. Only by this means, family matters that would not be otherwise known by the people could be presented for the knowledge of the Muslims.

In this regard, Aisha was the most active one among the Prophet’s wives. She was a young, intelligent, perceptive, and smart person. When we consider that Aisha (r. anha) narrated 2210 sayings of the Prophet (pbuh), we may easily say that: “If she had not been a part of the Prophet’s life, we would not have learned many important aspects of the Prophet’s life. Aisha (r. anha), who also knew and recited many poems by heart (Ibn Sa’d, VIII, 73) was one of the most important assistants of the Prophet (pbuh) in his mission.

Aisha (r. anha) knew the Qur’an, the lawful and the unlawful, Islamic law, medicine, poetry, Arab tales, and genealogy very well. Whenever the Companions disagreed about an issue, they would ask her opinion. Even the prominent members of the Companions would consult her. (Ibn Hajar, al-Isaba, IV, 360) In this respect Abu Musa (r.a.) said that:

“If we saw a problem in a narration, we would ask it to Aisha and we would certainly get an explanation from her.” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 62)

There are even collections of the Companions about narrations corrected by Aisha (r. anha). Abu Mansur al-Baghdadi, Imam Zarkashi, and Suyuti are among the scholars who wrote on this topic. According to these books Aisha (r. anha) even warned and corrected the mistakes and misunderstandings of the prominent Companions, such as Umar b. al-Khattab, Ali, Abu Hurairah, Ibn Abbas, Ibn Umar, Ibn Mas’ud, Abu Said al-Khudri, Abu al-Darda, Bara b. Azib, Jabir b. Abdillah. She then narrated and taught them the correct tradition.[13]

The famous scholar Zuhri says that:

“If the knowledge of all people and the knowledge of the other wives of the Prophet had come together, Aisha’s knowledge would have dominated.” (Hakim, IV, 12)

Whenever Aisha (r. anha) heard anything which she did not understand, she would search and ask the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) until she understood it completely. Once the Prophet (pbuh) said that:

“Whoever will be called to account (about his deeds on the Day of Resurrection) will surely be punished.” I said,

“Doesn’t Allah say: “Then whoso is given his account in his right hand he truly will receive an easy reckoning.” (al-Inshiqaq 84; 7-8)

The Prophet (pbuh) replied,

“This means only the presentation of the accounts but whoever will be questioned about his account will certainly be ruined.” (Bukhari, ‘Ilm, 35)

Umm Salama (r. anha) was, too, known by her knowledge, perception, eloquence, and virtue. When Muslims acted slowly in obeying the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) at Hudaibiyah, she gave him sound advice. Her words to Umar during the incident of I’la were also evidence of her knowledge and perception. She narrated 378 sayings from the Prophet (pbuh) (Zahabi, II, 203, 210). She comes after Aisha among the mothers of the believers in her amont of knowledge. This is why she played a very important role in conveying the message of Islam with the Prophet (pbuh).

The following conversation between the Messenger of Allah and Hafsa (r. anha) another wife of the Prophet (pbuh), shows us how important the Prophet’s marriages were in spreading the message of Islam:

Umm Mubashshir reported that she heard Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) saying in Hafsa’s presence:

“God willing, those from the people of the Tree who pledged allegiance under it would never enter the fire of Hell.” Then Hafsa asked:

“O Messenger of Allah! Allah the Almighty has said “And there is not one of you but shall come to it; this is an unavoidable decree of your Lord.” (Maryam 19; 72) How will this happen?” Thereupon, Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) recited the following verse saying:

“Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, has said: “Then We shall rescue those who kept from evil, and leave the evil-doers crouching there.” (Maryam 19; 72) And then he explained that coming to the Hell-fire meant crossing over the Sirat Bridge and passing by Hell; but it did not mean entering it (Muslim, Fada’il al-Sahabah, 163).

We should not conclude from all these reports that the Messenger of Allah conveyed the message of Islam only with the help of his wives. He merely benefited from the help of his spouses, relatives and friends on his difficult and painful path.

One of the reasons for the Prophet’s marriages was to reform some wrong beliefs that had become established in the society. Allah the Almighty had His Messenger abolish the false beliefs and customs and approve the correct ones during his lifetime; for only a Prophet who is supported by Divine revelation could change such deeply rooted beliefs. By marrying his aunt’s daughter Zainab bint Jahsh (r. anha) at the age of thirty five, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) ended many unlawful practices related to marriage, adoption, divorce, inheritance, family secrets, and the like. At that time people were adopting children and accepting them like their real children. And they were arranging their marriage and inheritance regulations based on this. By wedding His Messenger to Zainab bint Jahsh, after being divorced by Prophet’s adopted son Zaid, Allah the Almighty corrected this false belief. This is stated in a verse as follows:

“…Zaid had accomplished his want of her, We gave her to you as a wife, so that there should be no difficulty for the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished their want of them; and Allah’s command shall be performed.” (al-Ahzab 33; 37)

One of the points that Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) paid attention to in his marriages was the political relations. With the relationships established through marriages, he gained the friendship of several tribes and by this way a lot of people converted to Islam. For instance, the Prophet’s marriage with Juwairiyah (r. anha) saved seven hundred prisoners of war from the Mustaliq clan with no charge and because of this hundreds of people converted to Islam.

Juwairiyah (r. anha) was the daughter of Harith b. Abi Dirar, the leader of the Mustaliq clan. When the Prophet (pbuh) heard that this clan was getting ready to attack the believers on the fifth year of emigration, he acted more quickly and vanquished them. Juwairiyah (r. anha) was among the prisoners of war. Hoping to warm these people’s hearts to Islam, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) benefited from an Arabic custom and proposed to Juwairiyah. She accepted his offer and was granted the honor of being a mother of the believers. When the believers heard about the Prophet’s marriage with Juwairiyah, they released all the prisoners of war on the justification that they had become the relatives of the Prophet (pbuh).

Aisha (r. anha) said:

“We have not seen anybody who was more beneficial to her clan than Juwairiyah. Because of her, members of one hundred households were freed.” (Abu Dawud, Itq, 2)

Soon after that, members of the clan of Mustaliq converted to Islam.

The marriage of Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) with Safiyya bint Huyay, the daughter of a prominent Jew, improved the relationship between the believers and the Jews of Haibar. Allah’s Messenger performed this marriage in order to reduce the tension and strengthen the friendship between the believers and the Jews. Safiyyah (r. anha) maintained such a close relationship with the Jews that it attracted attention and raised complaints. She became like their representative in the Prophet’s house. One day, Safiyyah’s female-slave complained to Umar (r.a.) saying:

“O commander of the believers! Safiyyah likes Saturdays and maintains her relationship with the Jews.”

Upon hearing this, Umar (r.a.) sent someone to check this matter. The mother of the believers replied:

“You ask me about Saturday. I do not like that day since Allah granted me Friday. As for your question about the Jews, I have relatives among them and I just keep a close connection with them.[14] (Ibn Hajar, Al-Isabah, IV, 347)

The marriage of Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) with Meccan leader Abu Sufyan’s daughter Umm Habiba softened first, Abu Sufyan’s then the whole of the Meccans’ hearts towards Islam. When Abu Sufyan heard of their marriage, even though he had still been an unbeliever, he praised Islam:

“He is a generous person whom cannot be lead.” It is said that the following verse was revealed following this incident:

“It may be that Allah will grant love and friendship between you and those whom you (now) hold as enemies. For Allah has power over all things; and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (al-Mumtahina 60; 7) (Ibn Hajar, Al-Isabah, IV, 306; Wahidi, p. 443) When the Hudaibiyah treaty had been violated, Abu Sufyan came to Medina. Nobody talked to him so he went to his daughter or to the Prophet’s house. However, Umm Habibah took away the Prophet’s cushion from under her father and did not esteem him so much for he was a polytheist. (Ibn Hisham, II, 12-13; Waqidi, II, 791-793)

All these prove how successful was Prophet’s policy was.

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) used the marriage institution to establish relations not just with the unbelievers but also with a number of believers. Thus, he succeeded in establishing a strongly connected society. When we examine the lives of leading figures from the early Muslim society, we can observe the strong connection among them based on the institution of marriage. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) got married with the daughters of Abu Bakr and Umar and wedded his daughters to Uthman and Ali (r. anhum). Thus, he established a strong relationship with his prominent Companions.[15]

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) got married to Maimunah (r. anha) on his way back from the minor pilgrimage. Maimunah was thirty six at the time and had been married twice before. She had eight sisters and all of who were married with the prominent members of different tribes. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) became a relative with a lot of people through this marriage. He wanted to soften the hearts of the Meccans and efface the enmity with them. Hence, he wanted to organize a wedding fest, but the Meccans did not allow him to do that after the three-day-period passed. Consequently, he performed the wedding ceremony in a place called Sarif ten miles away from Mecca. (Bukhari, Maghazi, 43; Tirmidhi, Hajj, 24; Ibn Hajar, al-Isabah, IV, 412-13; Zahabi, II, 240, 245)

One of the reasons for the Prophet’s marriages was his endless mercy, compassion, and loyalty towards his ummah. When his blessed life is examined, we can see he felt himself closer towards the needy, suffering people, and those who work for Islam. He was always thankful and loyal to them. When those altruistic people were helpless and in need, he (pbuh) ran for their help as much as he could and rescued them. When his help was not enough for the female Companions, he wedded them to one of his Companions or he, himself, married them. Sawdah, Umm Salama, Zainab bint Huzaimah, and Umm Habibah can be stated among these women.

Sawdah (r. anha) was married with Sakran b. Amr. When believers had been persecuted during the Meccan period, they migrated to Abyssinia. Soon after that, Sakran passed away there. There are also reports that he passed away after he returned to Mecca. Sawda’s altruism and faithful attitude towards Islam attracted the Prophet’s praise and in order to help he married her. Sawdah was also a very merciful and compassionate person. She looked after Prophet’s little daughters and raised them compassionately.

Umm Salama (r. anha) was one of the first migrants to Abyssinia, two where she migrated twice and after whih she migrated to Medina. Her husband and her had to endure many hardships for they were among the earliest believers. When they were about to move from Mecca to Medina, their relatives prevented her from going with her husband. Because of that, she stayed far from her husband and from her children for about a year. During this period she frequently went to a place called Abtah and cried all day. Finally her relatives showed mercy and let her go. Some time later her husband died because of his wounds he had gotten at Uhud.[16] Allah’s Messenger proposed to her in order to bring her under his protection. She had four orphans named Zainab, Salama, Umar, and Durra. They were raised and educated by the Prophet (pbuh). They narrated a lot of sayings from the Prophet (pbuh). Following the footsteps of Aisha, Zainab later became a well-known jurist.

The Prophet’s wife Zainab bint Huzaimah (r. anha) had been the wife of Abdullah b. Jahsh, one of the earliest immigrants. (Zahabi, II, 218) Zainab, whose husband got martyred at Uhud, fell in need and thus the Prophet (pbuh) took her under his protection. She passed away two or three months after she had married him (pbuh). (Ibn Sa’d, VIII, 115-16)

Umm Habibah (r. anha) was also among the earliest believers. She and her husband fled from the polytheists’ persecution and immigrated to Abyssinia. She bore her daughter Habiba there. Unfortunately Ubaidullah converted to Christianity in Abyssinia. He even forced Umm Habiba to convert out of Islam, too. Umm Habiba strongly refused this offer. Shortly after this her husband died. When Umm Habiba (r. anha) left alone and desperate in a foreign country, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) sent her a message and proposed to her. She became very happy at receiving this offer. In the sixth year of hijrah they got wedded by the Abyssinian ruler Ashama and gave her four thousand silver pieces as dowry. Then he sent her and her daughter Habiba to the Prophet (pbuh) with Surahbil b. Hasana. (Abu Dawud, Nikah, 27-28; Nasai, Nikah, 66) Umm Habiba, who narrated sixty five sayings from the Prophet (pbuh), passed away in the 44 year of Hijra in Medina.

Because of her belief Umar’s daughter Hafsa (r. anhum) was, too, among those who had to immigrate to Abyssinia. When her husband Hunais passed away because of his wounds from the battles of Badr and Uhud, Hafsa was only twenty years old. By marrying her, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) not only made Umar (r.a.) very happy, but also rewarded a pious lady who was in need.

With the permission and order of Allah, His Messenger (pbuh) made a number of marriages for these and other similar political, religious, moral, and social reasons and especially the need for qualified and experienced women instructors in matters related to women.

In some legal matters one woman’s opinion would not be enough. Islam’s views regarding women and family life might not be transmitted through the ages. Beside, there was no guarantee that these women would outlive the Prophet (pbuh), which would mean that the regulations of Islamic law could not come into existence.

If Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) had married for lust, there were many beautiful girls in Medina, and their fathers would have considered it an honor to give their daughter’s hand in marriage to the Prophet. Medinan girls would, too, feel honored at getting married with him and joining the mothers of the believers. But the Prophet (pbuh) did not resort to this path.

It is also remarkable that Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) did not marry any women from Medina for political reasons,[17] because emigrant women were among the first to endure the pains and they were more in need than the Medinan women.

In short, the Prophet’s marriages were the result of his foresight and performed to realize many lofty goals. When we examine the results of his marriages, we can see how successful and to the point his policy was.

[1] Some scholars interpreted this tradition saying that women were loved by the Prophet (pbuh) because of “their role in spreading Islam.”

[2] One night Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) narrated a story to his wives. One of them said:

“O Messenger of Allah! This story is like the ones narrated by Hurafa.” The Prophet (pbuh) said:

“Do you know who Hurafa was? Hurafa was a man from the people of Uzra. During the days of ignorance, jinns captured him. He stayed with them for a long time. Then he was sent back to the world of humans. He used to tell the people the extraordinary things that he had seen among the jinns. This is why people have began to use the phrase “like the Hurafa’s words” (for the extraordinary things they heard)” (Ibn Hanbal, VI, 157) In another saying, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said: “May Allah have mercy on Hurafa! He was a righteous man.” (Suyuti, II, 19)

[3] The wisdom behind Prophet’s prohibition of pictures and using items with pictures was that at that time the Polytheists were worshipping pictures and portraits. And he did not want followers to remember the old days and return to their old faith. He never allowed the Islamic faith to get mixed with polytheistic practices. The reports which strongly prohibit pictures belong the early days of Islam. But later, when Islam triumphed over false beliefs, using pictures has been allowed as long as they do not lead to extreme respect. (Kamil Mîras, II, 316-318; VI, 414-421) This fact is expressed by the 39th maxim of Majalla “It is an accepted fact that the terms of law vary with the change of times.” It should not be forgotten that it is certain that pictures against Islamic manners and ethics are still forbidden.

[4] Describing our mother Safiyyah as “a daughter of a prophet” was a reference that she came from Aaron’s lineage. Thus, Moses (A.S.) is the one meant by her uncle. (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 63)

[5] ‘Ila: means a conditional or unconditional oath made by a husband not to have sex with his wife for a certain or uncertain period of time. Because of some inappropriate actions of his wives Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) swore not to sleep with them for a month. (Bukhari, Sawm, 11, Talaq, 21; Nasai, Talaq, 32; Ibn Majah, Talaq, 24) See for detailed information An Excellent Exemplar, vol. 1, p.

[6] Another narrator of this tradition said that what Aisha (r. anha) meant by these words is that Safiyyah (r. anha) was short-statured.

[7] Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) changed the repugnant personal and place names not only reminding polytheism but he even changed the names causing vanity. For instance when he heard that Barra was boasting by her name meaning all kinds of goodness, he changed it to Zainab. (Muslim, Adab, 15-18)

٭ To lie down to sleep after performing duties of worship and saying a special supplication in the hope that Allah will show the best by a dream.

[8] Sa’ is a weight measure which is equal to 2120 gr.

[9] One wasq is about 200 kg.

[10] One of the reports about the wisdom in Prophet’s marriages was narrated by Aisha (r. anha):

“Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) said to me: “You have been shown to me three nights in my dreams. An angel was carrying you in a silken cloth and said to me, “This is your wife.” I uncovered it; and behold, it was you. I said to myself: “If this dream is from Allah, He will surely make it to come true.’” (Bukhari, Nikah, 9, 35; Muslim, Fada’il al-Sahaba, 79)

[11] Some of the Prophet’s (pbuh) personal behavior and actions was not an example for his ummah. He has a special place because of his qualities of being the founder, the first representative, the first executive of a religion and the Messenger of Allah. For instance, he was ordered to perform prayer in the middle of the night (tahajjud); he fasted consecutively without a break; and he and his family were not allowed to accept alms. Similarly, Muslim scholars have unanimously agreed that marrying more than four wives was a rule particular to the Prophet (pbuh) cannot be followed by the believers.

[13] See Suyuti, ‘Ain al-Isaba fi istidraki Aisha ‘ala al-Sahaba, ed. Abdullah Muhammad Darwish, Maktabat al-ʻIlm, al-Qahira, 1988

[14] Then Safiyya (r. anha) turned to her slave and asked her the reason for her slander. She said:

“I just gave into my temptations.”

Safiyya’s response was a good manifestation of how strongly she had embraced Islam:

“Go! I emancipated you.” (Ibn Hajar, Al-Isabah, IV, 347)

[15] A wise man was asked:

“Which one of his caliphs did the Prophet (pbuh) love most?” he replied eloquently:

This Arabic sentence can be understood based on the referring places of the pronouns either as “the one who has the Prophet’s daughter in his house” or “the one whose daughter is in the Prophet’s house.” Thus, it highlights that all the four caliphs were equally in the circle of Prophet’s love.

[16] Abu Salama (r.a.) was one of the intelligent and prominent Companions and who helped the Prophet (pbuh) most. When Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) left Medina for the battle of Dhu’l Ashira, he appointed Abu Salamah as the deputy governor of Medina. (Ibn Sa’d, II, 9) Again he sent a hundred-and-fifty soldier expedition to a water belonged to the clan of Asad b. Huzainah in Qatan under Abu Salama’s command. (Ibn Sa’d, II, 50) By marrying Umm Salama, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) got this dear Companion’s trusts under his protection.

[17] In a verse Allah the Almighty described the women whom the Prophet (pbuh) could marry as “who emigrated with you” (al-Ahzab 33; 50) Ibn Abbas (r. anhuma) said that: “the Prophet’s marriage with other than the women from the emigrant was prohibited.” (Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 33/17-18)

Source: The History of Prophets in Light of The Qur’an, THE CHAIN OF PROPHETS II, Osman Nuri TOPBAŞ, Erkam Publications

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