The Prophet’s (sa) Marriages – Wisdom for Those Who Seek it

role modelMany will agree that the decision to marry is not an easy one. What kind of spouse to look for? How should the wedding be conducted? How to nurture the bond of marriage? – All of these are weighty considerations, especially for those, who seek Allah’s (swt) blessings for a successful and joyous marriage life. As in all instances, we can find the answers to true marital success from our Prophet’s (sa) life.

Our Prophet (sa) was married eleven times. The number itself makes many critics (including Muslims) to shy away from studying the example he sought to uphold through his marriages. His wives were bestowed the title of Ummul-Momineen (mothers of the believers) and truly played the role of the first ladies of the Muslim Ummah, supporting and advising their husband, bringing to him the grievances of people and educating the masses about the Deen.

Additionally, they lived with each other comfortably. They did have their differences but managed to avoid the types of soap operas created by lesser numbers of women living together, let alone sharing a single husband. Each of them gave their consent to marry him, and none of them sought to leave him – even when Allah (swt) promised to provide them with the bounties of this world, if they would divorce him.

Our Prophet’s (sa) first wife was Kadijah Bint Khawaylid (rta). She was a forty year old noblewoman and a respected entrepreneur, who had been a widowed mother and later a divorcee prior to her marriage to the Prophet (sa).Though fifteen years his senior, Khadijah (rta) was the Prophet’s (sa) most beloved wife and the mother of his six children. She witnessed the early days of the Prophet’s (sa) mission and was ‘the woman behind the man’- the first to accept Allah’s Messenger (sa) and support him through initial difficulties. After her death, the Prophet (sa) continued to make Dua for her and remembered her throughout his life.

Kadijah’s (rta) death left the Prophet’s two younger daughters in need of a woman’s motherly love. The widowed Saudah (rta) was requested to fill that void. Being a humored person, she soon created a comfortable and light atmosphere in the Prophet’s (sa) home and eventually was considered a mother figure by her co-wives.

Aisha’s (rta) history as the youngest of the Prophet’s wives is often under harsh scrutiny. Her marriage was a direct order by Allah (swt), which the Prophet (sa) received in his dreams. Dreams were a form of revelation also for other prophets, including Ibrahim (as), who was ordered to sacrifice his only son through a dream. Aisha (rta) was six years old, when her marriage was arranged – a feature allowed only to Allah’s Prophet (sa), but a blessing for his entire Ummah, as she became Islam’s foremost female scholar. Aisha (rta) was blessed with an inquisitive mind and incredible memory. Through her close relationship with the Prophet (sa), she would question him about all matters and would then memorize his every word. After the Prophet’s (sa) death, her home became the school, from which many future scholars emerged.

Through marriage with Aisha’s (rta) the Prophet (sa) formed strong family ties with her father Abu Bakr Siddiq (rta) (the first Caliph). Similarly his marriage to Hafsa (rta) did the same with her father Umar (rta) (the second Caliph). Interestingly, even the third and the fourth Caliphs (Usman (rta) and Ali (rta)) shared ties through marriage with the Prophet (sa), as his daughters were their wives.

We see the example of bringing families together by means of marriage also through the Prophet’s (sa) marriages to the war captives Safiyyah (rta) (a daughter of a prominent Jewish leader) and Jawayriyah (rta) from the tribe of Banu Mustaliq.

Zainab Bin Khazeemah (rta), also known as ‘mother of the needy’ for her generosity, and Umm Salamah (rta), an elderly wise woman and a renowned narrator of Ahadeeth, eventually joined the ranks of these blessed women. Their husbands were martyrs and Prophet’s (sa) marriages with them brought them and their children under his protection, thus encouraging the Ummah to help the widows.

Umm Habibah (rta) was Prophet’s (sa) cousin, and their marriage was a long distance one. She was in Abbassinyah, a widowed and destitute mother, when the Prophet (sa) heard of her situation and sent his proposal through a messenger to the King Negus. On her consent, Negus arranged the wedding and a wedding feast, gave her Mehr on the Prophet’s (sa) behalf and even had her transported to her husband. This wedding refutes the belief that the consummation of marriage is a prerequisite for Valima. It also refuted the once prevalent custom of not marrying one’s first cousin.

The story of the Prophet’s (sa) marriage to Zainab Bint Jahash (rta) is outlined within the Quran (Al-Ahzab) itself – as Allah (swt) Himself had the Nikah preformed in Jannah. She was a divorcee of the Prophet’s (sa) ‘adopted’ son, so this marriage broke down the custom of adoption. This marriage made many a tongue wag and, hence, helped to identify the hypocrites among the true followers of the Prophet (sa).

Since the prophets must face harder trials than their followers and observe more demanding religious rites, they have also been given some privileges for them alone. Such was the case of the Prophet’s (sa) marriage to Maimoona (rta), as stated by Allah (swt) in (Ahzab 33:50-52). She was very pious woman, who had been once divorced and later married and widowed. It was her ardent desire to be amongst the Um-ul-Momineen, even though she knew well the difficult lives they had. Allah (swt) accepted her earnest plea, and the Prophet (sa) accepted her proposal.

The Prophet (sa) treated his wives equally, spending one day with each of them, beginning with Umm Salama (rta) (the eldest) and ending with Aisha (rta) (the youngest). Each was allotted a night with him and lots were drawn to choose, who would accompany him on a journey. Though Aisha (rta) was his favourite, he treated them equally in all matters

Further study of the lives and personalities of the mothers of believers would reveal, why they were selected by Allah (swt) to uphold this special title. A question that ought to be considered by the ‘Muslim’ critics of the Prophet’s (sa) marriages should be: “If we accept him as the Prophet chosen by Allah (swt), may we question his actions and refuse to seek the wisdom within them?”

Anger for Allah (swt)

our role modelAt a time when conflict, distress, and war are rampant, Muslims are facing persecution. As Fitan descend one after another, we, as Muslims, desperately need to mould our reactions to deliberate provocations, according to the lofty moral conduct exemplified by our Prophet Muhammad (sa). At one extreme, we react to traumatic events by abusing, insulting, and threatening to kill the enemies of Islam; on the other end, we befriend some prejudiced non-Muslims so whole-heartedly that we don’t feel anything, when they degrade Islam.

How do we direct our anger to ensure that it lies within the boundaries of ‘anger for the sake of Allah (swt)?’ How do we know, when it is praiseworthy to remain silent and forgive our enemy, and when it is commendable to react with appropriate emotions and words of Naseehah?

Prophet Muhammad (sa) is well-known for practicing self-control when angry. He expressed his fury at the most by a change in facial expression: his cheeks would turn red, and he would become silent. In some cases, he would make a statement of mild or stern rebuke, in order to correct serious errors made by his companions. The term ‘personal revenge’ never existed in his vocabulary.

How and when the Prophet Muhammad (sa) expressed his anger is best described by Aisha (rta): “Allah’s Messenger never once struck anyone with his hand – not a servant of his nor a woman – except when he was fighting in war. He would never seek to punish anyone for their abuses, except when one of Allah’s prohibitions had been transgressed; then, he would do so only for Allah’s sake.” (Muslim, Abu Dawood, and Ibn Majah)

One of his duties as a Prophet, however, was to ensure that Allah’s (swt) laws and Hudood (restrictions) were not violated. Hence, errors by Muslims in implementing Deen were immediately corrected. Because of this, Allah’s Messenger (sa) expressed his anger on certain occasions. The following Ahadeeth illustrate this point.

Zayd ibn Thabit (rta) reports: “The Prophet chose a place, where he went out at night to pray. Some men saw him doing that, and they prayed with him. They came every night to do that. One night, the Prophet did not come out to join them. They started to make some noises like little coughs, raised their voices, and even threw pebbles at his door. He came out to them in a state of anger and said: “Look, you people! You continued doing what you did, until I thought it might be made obligatory for you. Pray in your own home, because the best prayer a person can offer is the one he offers at home, except for the obligatory prayers.” (Bukhari, Abu Dawood, and An-Nasai)

Once, the Prophet (sa) found his companions disputing with each other over the issue of the divine decree (Qadr). The Prophet’s (sa) face became furious, and he said: “Was this what you were ordered to do? Is this what you have been created for? To toss the verses of the Quran around like that? This is how the nations before you fell to their ruin.” (Ibn Majah)

Another action that angered the Prophet (sa) was when people asked him too many questions. Zayd ibn Khalid (rta) reports: “A man asked the Prophet (sa) about what one should do with what one might find in the street. The Prophet (sa) said to him: ‘Publicize it for a year, and then make sure to know its description and spend it. Should its owner come up, give it back to him.’ The man said: ‘What about a lost sheep?’ The Prophet (sa) said: ‘It belongs to you, your brother or the wolf.’ The man further asked: ‘What about a lost camel?’ The Prophet’s (sa) face was reddened with anger at this question, and then he said to the man: ‘What do you want with it? It has its own hoofs and drink, until its owner finds it.’” (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah)

There were some incidents in the Prophet’s (sa) life that made him angry even with his dearest companions.

The Sahihain report a Hadeeth, in which Usama Bin Zayd (rta), a beloved companion of the Prophet (sa), tried to intercede on behalf of a Quraishi woman convicted of theft. On hearing Usama (rta) speak for her, the Prophet (sa) became angry, and his face changed color. He replied: “Are you interceding concerning one of the punishments prescribed by Allah (swt)?” He further said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, was to steal, I would cut off her hand.” Then, he ordered the hand of the woman, who had stolen, to be cut off.

Muslim narrates a Hadeeth about Muadh Bin Jabal (rta) lengthening the Isha prayer so much that a man left the congregation and reported the incident to the Prophet (sa), who rebuked Muadh (rta) by saying: “Muadh, do you want to become a Fattaan (person putting people to trial)?” He then instructed him to recite just the shorter Surahs in the night prayer.

A narration in the Sahihain reports, how Allah’s Messenger (sa) once became angry at two of his young wives, Hafsa and Aisha (rta), when he entrusted one of them with a secret taking her into strict confidence, but she disclosed it to the other against his wishes. Vowing to stay away from them both for a month, he moved to an upper room in silent fury. As his wives cried in repentance, Allah (swt) revealed Quranic verses censuring them for having angered him.

Al-Darimi has a narration about Umar (rta) bringing the Torah before the Prophet (sa) and reading from it. The Prophet’s (sa) face changed color as he became angry, until Umar (rta) stopped. The Prophet (sa) then said: “By Him in Whose hand is the life of Muhammad, even if Moosa were to appear before you and you were to follow him, leaving me aside, you would certainly stray into error; for if Moosa were alive, and he found my prophetical ministry, even he would have definitely followed me.”

Aisha (rta) has narrated: “The Prophet (sa) entered upon me, while there was a curtain having pictures (of animals) in the house. His face got red with anger, and then he took hold of the curtain and tore it into pieces. He said: ‘Such people, who paint these pictures, will receive the severest punishment on the Day of Resurrection.’” (Bukhari)

We can see, how Allah’s Messenger (sa) became angry, when Muslims exceeded limits of moderation in worship, disputed with each other about Deen, asked too many questions, referred to other sources besides the Quran, or inclined towards neglecting the restrictions ordained by Allah (swt). He expressed his anger, however, with constrained emotions and carefully-chosen but effective words of reprimand. That’s how we should also try to mould our fury: to be ignited only for Allah (swt), and expressed just as His Messenger (sa) did.

“The strong man is not the one, who can throw another down. The strong man is the one, who can control himself, when he is angry.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Response to Magic

role modelA bearded face and turbaned head with its tip ignited, passing for an ignited bomb; a scary-looking, long-bearded man dressed in white, waving a sharp sword. The world witnessed a chain reaction to these depictions and an outcry condemning this distorted imagery of a man, who was sent by Allah (swt) as a mercy to the mankind.

On the contrary, Prophet Muhammad (sa) was an exemplary human being, who returned the nasty actions carried out against him with lofty kindness. Today, he is alleged to having enforced barbaric punishments, such as having thieves’ hands amputated or adulterers flogged. How could it be that he forgave his personal enemies time and again, yet punished others publicly? The answer is twofold: as a Prophet, he had to enforce Islam’s judicial and legal system, as revealed to him by Allah (swt). When people transgressed Divine laws and limits, it was his duty to execute Divine justice. No legal system in the world lets off criminals, who commit heinous crimes. Once convicted, they have to pay the price. The same was true for establishing Islamic law enforcement in society.

Conversely, when dealing with his personal enemies, who constantly plotted vindictive actions against him, our Prophet (sa) never exacted revenge. He chose to forgive unconditionally. A total of seventeen attacks were made on his life, yet, in spite of knowing the perpetrators’ identities, he never took revenge against them although was able to.

It was narrated that Aisha (rta) said: “A spell was put on the Prophet (sa), until he imagined that he had done a thing, when he had not done it. One day, he made Dua and then said: “Do you know that Allah has shown me in what lays my cure? Two men came to me, and one of them sat at my head and the other at my feet. One of them said to the other: ‘What is ailing the man?’ The other replied: ‘He has been bewitched.’ ‘Who has bewitched him?’ asked the other. To this, the other responded: ‘Labeed ibn Al-Asam.’ ‘With what?’ continued the inquirer. To which came the response: ‘With a comb, the hair that is stuck to it, and the skin of pollen of a male date palm.’ Again the other asked: ‘Where is it?’ And the other revealed the place saying: ‘In the well of Dharwaan.’

The Prophet (sa) then went out to the well, came back, and said to Aisha (rta): ‘Its date palms are like the heads of devils.’ I said: ‘Did you take it out?’ He said: ‘No. Allah has healed me, and I feared that it might bring evil upon the people.’ Then the well was filled in.”(Bukhari and Muslim)

This Hadeeth indicates that the Prophet (sa) clearly knew, who had practiced magic upon him; yet, he turned only to Allah (swt) for cure and sought no revenge. Also, out of concern for the people, he did not extract the items used to execute the magic, lest their evil could affect others.

“Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow…” (Al-Ahzab 33:21).

In Taif, the Prophet (sa) first met the chiefs, whom he invited to accept Islam. They responded insolently, sending gangs to harass him. These youths followed the Prophet (sa) and ganged up on him. They proceeded to abuse him and throw stones at him, until his feet were covered in blood. They continued, until he was compelled to take refuge in an orchard. Downhearted, he turned to Allah (swt) in earnest Dua. Allah (swt) sent the angel of mountains, who sought the Prophet’s (sa) permission to fuse the two hills, between which Taif was located. The Messenger of Allah (sa) replied: “No, I hope Allah will bring forth from their loins a people, who will worship Allah alone, associating nothing with Him.” (Muslim)

“And verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted (standard of) character” (Al-Qalam 68:4).

Anas (rta) reported that a Jewess came to Allah’s Messenger (sa) with poisoned mutton, and he ate from it. When he felt the effect of poison, he called for her and asked her about it, whereupon she said: “I had intended to kill you.” Thereupon, he said: “Allah will never give you the power to do it.” He (the narrator) said that they (the Companions of the Prophet (sa)) said: “Should we not kill her?” Thereupon, he said: “No.” He (Anas (rta)) said: “I felt (the effects of this poison) on the uvula of Allah’s Messenger.” (Muslim)

Despite the pain in his throat, as a result of her lethal action, and the subsequent confession of the Jewess herself, the Prophet (sa) did not have her executed for her crime.

These incidents are eye-openers for us. When our relatives do us even the slight of mischief out of enmity or jealousy, such as public insulting, backbiting, slandering, or cutting us off, we harbor a permanent grudge against them. More often than not, we return their actions with the same, if not ruder and more antagonistic behavior.

If a passerby gives us an involuntary shove, we turn around with glaring eyes and sharp rebuke ready to fight it out. Cursing and abusing others has become the norm in the face of any damage done unto us by fellow Muslims.

As a role model, Allah’s Messenger (sa) is a guiding light for us, despite the fact that mirroring his lofty conduct is unthinkable. It takes superhuman effort to extinguish the pain and anger, which flame in our heart after being wronged; to nip the Nafs that push us for  ‘sweet’ revenge; to forgive and to meet the wrongdoer the next time, as if nothing happened. This is the lesson that our benign Prophet (sa) left behind for us. He proved that it really is possible to forgive bloodthirsty archenemies in the blink of an eye.

“And We have not sent you (O Muhammad) not but as a mercy for the ‘Alamin (mankind, Jinn and all that exists).” (Al-Anbiya 21:107)

A scary face wearing a turban, pictured as a ticking bomb meant to kill innocents? I don’t think so.