Day 7: The Prophet (PBUH) and Khadijah (RA) & Can Muslim Men Marry Multiple Women?

The Prophet and his Wife:

In Islam, all teachings and practices are based on information provided in the Qur’an and by the Prophet’s (PBUH) life. Not what a country, a government, or people have decided is important or necessary. It’s the Qur’an and the life of the Prophet. Plain and simple.

That said, it is quite easily for someone to read or interpret to their benefit, much like Henry VIII quoted Leviticus to justify grounds for his divorce from Catherine of Aragon (look at me learnin’ ;D). However, the topic of the status of women in Islam is a hot button issue. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is mainly an issue in Western society. The women who actually live in these societies don’t debate their status within the religion, but their status within a society that has used religion to pervert their position. To be clear, I am not denying that religion has been and is being used to perpetuate conflict and oppression in many countries. My point is that within the religion itself, without cultural influences, the status of women is clear. And this will be looked at throughout the week.

The wives of the Prophet are known as “Ummahat ul-Mu’minin” or “Mothers of the Believers”. As the wife of the prophet, who was closest to the believers since he was the leader at the time, the wives functioned as mothers.

“The Prophet is closer to the believers than their selves, and his wives are (as) their mothers.” [33:6]

They cared for the community the way a mother does. Feeding, clothing, caring for the sick, visiting, etc. The roles these women played, their function, the high position they held trickled throughout the community. Since Prophet Muhammad is used as an example in the religion in all aspects, it only stands to reason that his wives fulfill the same obligation.

Many Muslims consider the marriage of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his first wife, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (RA), one of the greatest loves in history. This, of course, appeals greatly to someone who, for example, wants to write romance for a living…

The story of Khadijah (RA) and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) begins when she is 40 years old, a wealthy widow from a noble, merchant family and him only 25.

Due to her social status and financial success, Khadijah (RA) was sought after by many men. However, she decided that Muhammad (PBUH) would make a good husband because of his reputation as a trustworthy and honest man. Khadijah (RA) proposed to HIM. And after the Prophet’s uncle had given his blessing, the two were married.

As previously mentioned, the Qur’an was revealed during Ramadan. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had taken to spending Ramadan in seclusion and reflection in a cave on Mt. Hira (outside of Mecca). During the end of Ramadan of Muhammad’s (PBUH) fortieth year and Khadijah’s fifty-fifth, ran home from the cave terrified.

Khadijah (RA) was very important as Muhammad’s (PBUH) wife and instrumental at this moment because while he was scared and in pain, she was the one who helped him talk through his experience and understand that he had received a revelation from Allah through the angel Jibril (Gabriel).

Muhammad (PBUH) had tried to run from the angel (not knowing who or what he was), but Jibril appeared in front of him each time. He was informed that he would be the Messenger of Allah. This made Muhammad (PBUH) think he was going crazy and he ran home.

(He kind of reacted the same way Moses did.)

Khadijah (RA) calmed him down and they went to visit her cousin who was well-versed in Jewish and Christian text. Her cousin confirmed that this was similar to the beginnings of those prophets.

Khadijah (RA) was the first to accept Muhammad (PBUH) as the Messenger of Allah, publicly professed herself to be a follower of Islam, and stood by him through the challenges and adversities of the time.

It is interesting that in a religion that is often vilified for oppressing women, the first person the convert after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a woman. The Prophet’s (PBUH) first wife was Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (RA) and together they had six children. However, two died, both boys. The Prophet’s surviving children were four girls – Zaynab, Ruqaiya, Umm Kulthum, and Fatimah – all of whom went on to be strong women who greatly influenced the religion and the people around them.

They were married for 25 years before Khadijah’s (RA) death at the age of 65.*

This nasheed summarizes the story of the Prophet and his wife. I recommended it to a non-Muslim friend a while ago and she uses it to destress when needed. It’s just …soothing o.O

*The story is more detailed. I can direct you if you would like the read it.

Reader Question: But, doesn’t Islam say men can marry more than one woman?

Yes, the Qur’an does say a Muslim man can marry up to four women, however, with the caveat that they must be treated equally financially, emotionally, and socially. If it is not possible for him to treat these women as equal in all aspects, then no.

I’m going to go on record and say, I’d have problem if whomever I choose to marry wants multiple wives. Even if he’s a devout Muslim, my answer would be a big, fat NO.

On that note, for my writer friends, isn’t this to what most romances amount? Two people from different backgrounds and beliefs who come together, stand by each other, and better each other while maintaining their individual characters?

I’d say yes. And this is also the “ideal” role of a Muslim woman.

-PS

**Remember keep all comments clean and open-minded.

8 thoughts on “Day 7: The Prophet (PBUH) and Khadijah (RA) & Can Muslim Men Marry Multiple Women?

  1. Pingback: Day 11: The Qur’an, Dissected | Priscilla Shay, author

  2. I believe polygamy was already common practice in that age and time and also before it. Limiting the permitted number to 4 would be a step towards elimination. The prophet could not very well say only one wife because then all the extra women would be out on the street.

    • It was a common practice and yes, limiting the number was a step toward elimination. However, it was also an effort to make sure the women would be cared for, not continually neglected. Like you said, polygamy was a common practice, but so was female infanticide and the shunning of divorcees and widows. This left many women abandoned in a society where there were already more females than males.

  3. There is a great difference in the approaches of the Abrahamic and that of other religions towards women, and from time to time they can contradict one another. Islam and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) arrived at a time when mankind had accumulated a rich historical experience; to better understand just how great a revolution was brought about by the Prophet and the introduction of Islam we need to evaluate the principles that were put forward on this matter and the approach of the Prophet himself to Muslim and non-Muslim women.

  4. Fascinating! I’m loving your posts, Priscilla. Learning a lot! I did not realize the huge role the Prophet’s wife played in revealing his revelation. Way to go Khadijah! Thanks for sharing and have a blessed Ramadan.

    • Thank you, Susan! Yes, Khadijah played a vital role and did his other wives, and his daughters. Women actually (or are supposed to) play a more vital role in Islam than many people know.

  5. Priscilla–awesome post! Really insightful. When I read the “permission clause” for up to four wives the first time (imma learnin’ too!), I almost read it kind of tongue-in-cheek “Sure, you can have more than one. If you can treat them equally. Yeah, right, good luck with that one, guys!” I think people really miss this point (that having multiple wives isn’t about trying to demean women and is supposed to avoid that), and miss that just because a woman or women as a class are treated poorly under the guise of a religion, that doesn’t mean the faith itself encourages that kind of behavior.

    • Hi Rowenna! Thank you 🙂 It was an effort to limit the polygamy that was prevalent in the Arab world at the time. But, also a way to provide care for women who have been divorced, widowed, or orphaned (especially considering in the general population females usually outnumber males).

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